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CT7567

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  1. Current "best available" Strike Eagle is probably the GWH F-15E/I family of kits, which has all the correct mods for the variants and a very high level of detail. Unfortunately this comes at a literal price: in most markets and for most boxings, the GWH kit's retail cost is quite a jump above the average for any of the competitors. Another newer addition to the lineup worth consideration is Academy's new tooling for the F-15E/K. This follows the snap-together approach with multicolor plastic, but the level of accuracy and detail is generally far better than traditional snap fit kits. The main areas needing upgrades are the exhausts (resin replacements available) and possibly the weapons. Even with the cost of some aftermarket factored in, the new tool Academy kit is typically much cheaper than the GWH kit. Hasegawa's "corrected" tooling would rank just below these two (with Academy's original F-15E rounding out the top 4). I'm sure many of us are eager to see the upcoming Revell and how it compares to all of the above.
  2. I would say that if you're using the Academy kit as your baseline you'll probably be happy with ESCI/AMT/Ertl F-15 as a cheaper and slightly simpler alternative. It's not in the same league as their F-104 or Harrier families, but it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the abysmal Hornet kit @e8n2 mentioned above. Shape-wise Academy's kits have actually taken some legitimate criticism for the overly pronounced bulges on the upper aft fuselage above the engines. ESCI's tooling is more accurate there, but both kits are generally good (not to say great) representations of the pre-MSIP A/C airframe (or B/D, for the two-seaters including both companies' "E" models [notwithstanding the much newer "snap fit" Academy E]). The most notable difference is the ESCI kit's lack of any intake trunking - the "nodding" ramps are only provided in the up position (Academy gives you up or down options), and ESCI just has a solid blank face at the rear line of the intake parts. Wheel wells are slightly less detailed, ESCI having molded only the part of the main bays that are open when on the ground (the rest of the bays are covered by separate doors other than while cycling or for maintenance). You mentioned replacing intakes for both kits, but Academy's representation of the "featherless" exhausts in their first generation Eagles is above average out of the box (though tricky to assemble and with some troublesome ejector pin marks). ESCI by comparison has an unacceptably oversimplified version, the worst I can recall other than the Academy "new tool" E (one of that kit's few major flaws) or Airfix's Strike Eagle (also one of few major shortcomings in a surprisingly good update to an older kit). Both kits also feature decent representations of the early-style exhausts, applicable for Israeli birds even later in service. Overall I would say if you can get the ESCI kits for substantially less than Academy's then it's a worthy option, especially if you're not looking for superdetailed builds. The dorsal shape issue with Academy should be the main difference if you're planning to display both kits next to each other, but it's a relatively subtle thing (especially to most casual observers) and it's somewhat obscured by the vertical tails. Hasegawa's second generation Eagle is a better kit than either of these options, but generally even on the secondhand market much more expensive than Academy or ESCI. Be mindful that Hasegawa's original F-15 tooling is also periodically reissued but while it should be substantially cheaper, it is not of the same caliber (raised panel lines, soft/nonexistent detail, and only represents an early A/C - no featherless exhaust option). Hobbycraft also has an inexpensive Eagle family that is a very poor copy of the early Hasegawa tooling, with some egregious shape distortions introduced during the cloning process.
  3. Just to clarify, "that particular airframe" in my previous post was referring to the Milspec sheet for the 562 TFTS "boss bird." I'm sure 69-0304 would have worn standard-sized serials, just saying the decal sheet was correct for its subject (size-wise, anyway). Sorry for the confusion!
  4. OK, I believe the "undersized" codes are correct for that particular airframe - as with most squadron/wing COs the squadron/AMU number is presented in the size normally used for the serial number, with the actual serial presented smaller (the scaled down version including the AF/FY format in tiny size is definitely unusual). You can see the real thing here: https://www.airfighters.com/photo_9999_61090.jpg The F-22 codes would be lighter than needed for the Hill II Gray scheme (FS36118 on the lighter FS36270 background) since the Raptor wears a variant of the "Mod Eagle" colors (FS36176 over FS36251), so there would be a noticeable difference there (assuming the decals use the correct grays to begin with).
  5. It's sort of a mixed bag, but generally pretty good for what's essentially designed as a "snap together" kit for beginners. The biggest shortcomings are the weapons load (mediocre shape/detail and some rather clumsy attachments owing to the "no glue required" approach) and the decals (most boxings I know of actually have a set of stickers for beginners and a set of Academy's own waterslide decals, which have never gotten high marks). There's a build thread in progress now under the Phantom group build, suggest checking that out for photos and a good idea of detail & fit.
  6. You're correct that the all-gray scheme was developed at Hill AFB, actually designed for the F-16 originally during the FSD phase before it entered service. The FSD fleet wore quite a few interesting variations of grays before settling on a 3-tone "countershaded" scheme of FS 36118, FS36270, and FS36375. Being developed at Hill the name "Hill Gray" was at least semi-formal, but at some point (probably after the scheme was also adopted on Phantoms) it was nicknamed "Egyptian I" --- strictly informally -- most likely as a play on the well-known European I camouflage scheme, and based on the probable location of a major regional conflict in the late 70s/early 80s. Note also that technically your Weasel is in the later "Hill II" scheme, which deleted the lightest gray (and for F-4s extended the FS36118 gray to a glare shield area in front of the nose). This actually happened for Phantoms long before the F-16 fleet, as all of the gray F-4s serving during Desert Storm in 1991 had the two-color scheme but the F-16s didn't drop the 3-color scheme until well into the mid-90s. (For the record I've never heard of any reference to "Egyptian II" for the later scheme, which tends to reinforce the idea it was both informal and derived from a particular time/political climate). One other detail note re: colors - it looks like your AGM-88s are painted white, but in reality operational HARMs have always been painted FS36622 - the same light gray as the underside of your earlier model of '304. Obviously it's a really subtle difference, and it's always been strange to me that HARMs seem to be the one and only missile type in the US inventory that use that color (even after the undersides of all its carrier aircraft, and most other AGMs, went to FS36375 or FS36270). Not by any means to take away from the great work you've done with both models - I love the history represented by the same airframe near the start and end of its service life, especially when both are so historically significant to the Phantom's story as a whole. I am curious about the decals you used for the Weasel - it looks from the photos like your paints are the correct 36118 and 37270 (or reasonably close, anyway), but the tail codes seem much lighter than they should appear. I have a couple of these Desert Storm Weasels in my stash and want to be sure I avoid whatever maker missed the mark so badly. Again, not a critique of your work, as you seem to have salvaged it as well as anyone could - great job, and thanks for sharing!
  7. Beautiful subject and your model is coming along wonderfully! I hope it's just a technicality for your consideration, but felt obliged to note that VF-21 didn't actually participate in Desert Storm - they and the rest of CVW-14 aboard CV-62 USS Independence were deployed to the theater following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, in the build-up named Desert Shield, but they rotated home before the start of combat (Desert Storm) in January 1991 (Source) That air wing and timeframe has always been popular for modelers since they were widely photographed during the build-up prior to combat, and they had a CAG aircraft from each squadron featuring black tails and full color artwork (otherwise exceptionally rare in that era). For anyone interested on this group build, VF-154 was the other Tomcat squadron of CVW-14 at that time.
  8. Always enjoy your posts, especially the rare goodies like this one! In the January '83 pic, is that F-16A carrying an early LANTIRN pod? Re: the "permanent" windows being deleted, it appears to me they are (at most) plated over similar to the way the former passenger windows on the E-8 JSTARS are treated as part of their conversion from civilian 707s. If you look closely in the June '91 shot you can still see the outlines of the windows, so the openings are filled or possibly just painted over, but for modeling purposes you'd still want to show the panel lines (as appropriate to the scale). As for your diorama idea, I think the main trick to make such a setup work is building a strong enough core structure into the models to carry the actual loads of the supporting rods. Some 30 years ago there was a spectacular 1/72 build of a KC-135R refueling a B-52G - I saw it in person at the '93 IPMS Nationals, it was also published in an FSM reader gallery. It was built using the DB conversions for the Monogram BUFF and AMT to make the R-variant, so substantial added weight over and above the not insignificant weight of the kits themselves. My recollection is there was basically a solid acrylic keel inside each fuselage with the IFR boom as a solid connecting rod between the two. I'm fairly sure in that case the B-52 was supported on its own rod, but the load for a Phantom would be dramatically less so I'm sure it could be done with some proper engineering. And it could be a much worse challenge - imagine if you wanted to create an IFR diorama for Navy aircraft!
  9. Don't despair too greatly, if your target was a B-1B circa 1990 then quite a few of the Barracuda updates would not have been applied yet - most notably, at that time the "turkey feathers" had not been removed from the exhaust nozzles, so the kit items are actually closer for your subject than the "featherless" versions in the aftermarket set. The changeover seems to have occurred around the same time the Bones switched from the 3-tone "strategic" green & gray camouflage to overall FS36118 gray (circa mid-1990s), so odds are if the plane you're building has the multicolor camo it's also got the early exhausts.
  10. Duplicating some commentary already noted above, but summarizing the list for those of which I have fisthand knowledge: Hawker Hunter 1/72: Best: Revell AG; Avoid: Frog, Matchbox F105D Thunderchief: Best: Trumpeter or Revell; Avoid: Monogram (1950s tool); Frog/Hasegawa Sukhoi Su-7: Best: Modelsvit; Avoid: KP* *actually not bad for its era but does not compare well to modern standards (raised panel lines, lacking/soft detail) Sukhoi Su-17/22 Fitter: Best: Modelsvit; Avoid: all others but Italeri/Bilek Gloster Javelin: out of my era/expertise Mig-29 Fulcrum: - 9.12 "Fulcrum A": Best: Trumpeter; Avoid: all others but Italeri/Testors*/Tamiya *Testors reboxed Italeri but also previously reboxed the woefully inaccurate Fujimi kit; the latter boxes should include the Fujimi logo - 9.13 "Fulcrum C": Best: Zvezda (2015 tool)/Academy; Avoid: all others but Trumpeter, ICM (2008 tool) F-14 Tomcat: - F-14A: Best: Fine Molds or GWH; Best "buy": Academy (new tool), HobbyBoss, or Fujimi/KA; Avoid: All others but Hasegawa - F-14B/A+: Best: Fine Molds; Best "buy": Academy (new tool A - includes all A+/B parts), HobbyBoss; Avoid all others but Hasegawa - F-14D: Best: Fine Molds or GWH; Best "buy": HobbyBoss; Avoid all others but Hasegawa F-15 Eagle: - F-15A/C: Best: Platz (future release) or Hasegawa (1988 tool); Avoid: Hasegawa (old tool), all others but Airfix (A/B) or AMT/ESCI/Ertl (A/C) - F-15E and derivatives: Best: GWH; Best "buy": Academy (new tool)* or Hasegawa post-2011 releases *Academy kit is a "snap fit" tooling but with generally excellent detailing, exceptions being weapons & exhausts - both of which are available aftermarket, and generally total cost would remain competitive with retail prices for GWH kits Su-27 Flanker family: - Su-27: Best: Trumpeter; Avoid: all others but ICM - Su-27SM: Best: Zvezda (reboxes available from Academy and Revell AG); Avoid: all others - Su-33 "Flanker D" (carrier-based fighter/bomber): Best: Zvezda (reboxes available from Academy and Revell AG); Avoid: all others but Hasegawa Su-33 Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B: Best: Airfix (new tool); Avoid: Airfix (old tool), Matchbox/Revell Handley Page Victor: Best: Airfix; Avoid: Matchbox/Revell Mil MI-24 Hind Best: Zvezda; Avoid: A-10 Thunderbolt II: Best: Italeri; Avoid: all others but Hasegawa AH-64 Apache: Best: Academy (all variants); Avoid: Matchbox/Revell (AH-64A); all but Academy or Hobbyboss (AH-64D) SAAB Viggen: Best: Special Hobby; Avoid: Matchbox, Airfix Sepecat Jaguar: - RAF single-seaters: Best: Hasegawa; Avoid: Hobbycraft, Matchbox - Armee de l'Aire single-seaters: Best: HobbyBoss or Hasegawa; Avoid: Hobbycraft, Matchbox
  11. I'm confident this isn't any standard pod for the Phantom's use in ECM or targeting, primarily because the G only ever used the ALQ-119/184 or 131 families of ECM pods and it didn't need any podded targeting systems because those systems were internal (and the bulk of what differentiated the G from an E model in the first place). Your observation about the similarity between the flat nose of the pod and the TISEO system on some Es points to the most likely conclusion, that this is a camera pod. Test units frequently used relatively ad-hoc podded or bolt-on systems to record weapons separation tests and other in-flight video (bear in mind even the digital systems that existed in the G's final days of service were much bulkier than modern cameras - no such thing as a GoPro back in the day!). Another possibility, though far less likely, is that this may be a one-off targeting pod representing an interim stage of development for what eventually became the ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System adoped by the F-16s that took over the Wild Weasel role. Unlike the purpose-(re)built F-4G, the HTS was designed to give the F-16 as much of the G's emitter targeting capabilities as possible in a self-contained pod (hence the nickname "Weasel in a can"). This photo is definitely not an ASQ-213 (never carried by the Phantom for obvious reasons), but it *might* be a developmental version before the system design had fully evolved. My money is on camera pod, though, mainly due to the flat nose (implying an optical window) and lack of any obvious dielectric radomes/panels in any axis.
  12. Finding that F-105 sheet in usable condition may be tough, but there are a couple of alternatives I can suggest: First, I believe Microscale did a series of sheets for wing & squadron badges that covered this unit - at the very least I know it included the 35th TFW and several of its component squadrons. Since it was literally a sheet of nothing but multple badges in the same scale, it was not a good seller and is thus more commonly available on the secondhand market than type-specific sets (and usually at lower price due to the lower demand). Sorry I don't have details on sheet number but some Google-fu for "35 TFW" "Microscale" and the squadron number you need should get you close. I would note that the era represented in these badges may only be applicable for the SEA or Euro I schemes with "full color" badges, the later Hill II gray scheme toned down at least some of these markings so check your references. The other option may seem like a cheat but is actually an interesting modeler's detail: during Desert Storm when your subject along with probably most extant F-4Gs saw combat, the units saw fit prior to the start of hostilities to "blank out" all the identifying unit markings on their airframes (even the TAC badges). The result was fresh gray patches in the shape of the badges on otherwise moderately weathered aircraft. You could probably use the decals you have as masks to accomplish this accurately. The excellent dstorm.eu site shows other aircraft from the same unit/base to give you a good idea of the "look and feel," though unfortunately 69-0304 is lacking photographic documentation. Dstorm.eu Example F-4G
  13. It's a new tool, supposedly due any moment now: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235095929-172-dornierdassault-breguet-alpha-jet-family-by-kovozávody-prostějov-kp-box-art-release-august-2021/
  14. Not faulting @72modeler but the original source on this: the ejection seats used in the late A-6/EA-6 family (right up until the recent retirement of the final Prowlers) was actually the Martin Baker GRU-7EA, not the Mk. 7. This was a unique variant to the Intruder/Prowler, similar to the GRU-7 used in A/B model Tomcats (the noticeable difference being the 7EA has a single-loop face curtain handle, vs the Tomcat's paired loops). In case this wasn't clear from previous posts, all A-6 variants including the 4-seat EA-6B, have always had the "offset" between pilot and B/N or ECMO-1 seats. It is a relatively small but noticeable and interesting detail for modelers - not unlike the offset between front and rear seats in the Buccaneer.
  15. For the missiles I'd agree with previous posts that AGM-12s have the right look you're going for. It's impossible without more context to judge scale accurately but if the 1/72 versions are too large there are 1/144 versions out there: Arii 1/144 Weapons Set B As to your second question, the key to a good "scale finish" on aircraft like the Blackbird is to avoid a monochromatic "jet black" color, and instead start with a good "scale black" - actually very dark gray. Tamiya's NATO black is a good example, the more weathered an appearance you want the lighter the base color you should start with. Add to that a wash of dark gray (again, not pure black) and depending on the model's level of raised details drybrushing with a subtly lightened tint of the base color. If you have decals in the mix, it gets a bit more complicated but generally I've had best results using a gloss base coat (or gloss clear over the base color), decaling, wash/drybrush, and a final matte clear coat to dull things down and bring it all together.
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